Warning: This article contains spoilers including the end of inFamous 2.
Many stories revolve around sacrifice, with the hero usually doing something at great cost to themselves for the greater good, while the villain does everything in their power to elevate their status at whatever cost. It’s a story trope that has been used many times, and with inFamous 2 Sucker Punch took that theme and adapted it for their superpowered series, centered around Cole McGrath.
However, though the story ultimately centres around Cole’s actions and evolution as a character he is not the central focus today. Instead, this is a look at The Beast and why he committed the actions he did, and how his vision of the future could have played out if he had succeeded.
The Beast is revealed to be John White, one of the undercover NSA agents from the first inFamous game and an old ally of Cole. When the events of inFamous en,d John appears to die after being sucked into a vortex, but he survived in a non physical state, eventually rebuilding himself and becoming The Beast, the very thing he was tasked to stop.
As The Beast becomes more powerful he comes to the conclusion that the age of humanity is at an end, and it is the Conduits that should inherit the world. This isn’t a an objective born out of malice but instead a one based on harsh logic: John believes that the plague that is spreading throughout humanity is incurable. This leads to the objective of saving anyone with a Conduit gene which has the unavoidable consequence, at least in John’s mind, of killing regular humans.
What John doesn’t truly think of is the impact this future coming to fruition, and the psychological impact on the survivors. Imagine being a Conduit who lives through this genocide. Sure, you have a superpower but the majority of your friends, family and community are the cost of that. The huge wave of grief and anger that you’ll feel will most likely make you lash out rather than agree to this new world.
Now multiply that same situation thousands of times and you have a world born out of chaos; John’s logical approach fails to consider the fact that Conduits are still human underneath and will react as such with the catastrophe unfolding around them.
This also changes the whole way in which our civilisation is structured. The idea of nation states comes under threat almost immediately because Conduits of different nations no longer have to worry about armies rolling tanks into their cities, and many governments will fall alongside the human race. Instead, each individual now has the power to destroy another if they disagree over something.
This new world would shatter as each individual Conduit comes to terms with the power they hold. How many of us have fantasised about waking up with a superpower, be it flight, super strength or the ability to control the elements? Now that would become a reality for thousands, so who would want to take care of tasks like farming or maintaining infrastructure? When you can fly you don’t need roads.
Eventually, a new society would form. It could be that more powerful Conduits rule over the less powerful, uniting a group under their flag. New factions will crop up, ruled by similar abilities or how each one acts towards others. Sure, you’ll get the heroes, but you’ll also get the villains who will try to exert control over everyone.
It’s an interesting thought exercise because these ideas may have flitted through John’s mind. Did he believe that saving only the Conduits instead of finding a way for a peaceful coexistence with the humans was the best case scenario? He only knew that those who he saved possessed powers, nothing more. John is convinced for so long that saving the Conduits is the only way forward, without knowing what new kind of chaos would be inflicted on the world.
In a way the other ‘villain’ of inFamous 2, Joesph Bertrand, could be seen as a hero in a certain light. He is a Conduit too but keeps it hidden while trying to kill Cole and other Conduits. Bertrand hates the fact he is a Conduit, though more because he believes it is against God’s plan. He sees killing the Conduits as a way to save humanity.
However, this is all undone by the fact he creates artificial Conduits in a bid to sell them to various governments in the hope of kicking off a new Cold War.
The story on inFamous from the perspective of The Beast, John, is one where he tries to find a solution preferable to all-out extinction due to the plague. His view is that millions die so thousands can live and prosper. When Cole doesn’t join him, he is forced to fight him because John honestly believes Cole is dooming everyone.
It’s a story that takes the old sacrifice trope and instead of having one side making a sacrifice, both make their own. John isn’t evil, he just tried to save who he could.